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How to prevent from corrupting one of the goals you set for yourself?

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by HelloWorld, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. HelloWorld

    HelloWorld New Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Hello everyone! I'm new around here :)

    Quite some time ago I've been thinking about my life in general, my performances, etc and I came to the idea of setting some personal goals. I imagined many good things for me personally, many achievements and I personally felt good while at it, but thinking better about it another idea has been lurking within my thoughts that maybe I'm targetting a nice objective but I'm corrupting it by sinful reasons.

    To be more clear, let's imagine that I set a goal that I'll work on my math skills for example because I actually like mathematics but I didn't give them much thought last year for example. So I decided that I will work on my math skills so that I improve and I can resolve with ease exercises for the next grade, the ultimate goal being reaching later stages in our country's olympiads or other competitions. It all seemed okay at the first moment, I even started working a little bit and I seem to enjoy how things are going, but as I progressed a stronger and weird feeling has been growing as well.

    You see, I have many smart classmates and friends in my class, and even though I don't like people telling me I'm smart or things like that because I know how easy pride can ruin a lot of your progress, I also don't like not being considered amongst let's say the top in my class or being considered at a lower level than the others. (I believe it's somewhat a compromise, lol) and so my friends went last year to different competitions and I did as well but never touched the mathematics, as I said I never gave them much thought. Later I discovered that I still like the subject and that I want to improve, which I'm doing right now, so at the end of the story, this is my problem: I feel as if I'm not working for my pleasure for mathematics for example or not as much as if I'm working for a kind of sick target: having the best results especially at the math competition or becoming the best in the class, which doesn't feel right at all.

    Like, I feel my human nature would corrupt me and my objective for example in the end. Right now, I don't, but can I guarantee that maybe after a couple of months I won't be thinking that "he's gonna see who is the best" or "I am the best in class" without maybe even realising what I'm doing? And even though, maybe I wouldn't have such thoughts, if my hidden but true objective is that of achieving pride and glory could I actually work for it and say it's because of my passion for math? Or could I actually work for it and achieve anything in the end?

    You see, I can't say that I wouldn't be happy if I'd have good results at math competition or if I became the best in the class by the criterias ae are evaluated for example, but I don't want this to be the priority of my work for example, the number one objective. I want to work because of my passion and because I like doing what I'm doing, not because of such a "sick" objective if I may, but how do I know everything is not already corrupted and I'm not doing everything because of my inner pride? How do I know my work comes from the heart and not for other reasons?

    Sorry for the long post XD but I've been struggling with these ideas and I'm still not close to an answer. Don't hesitate to ask any questions if you need more details to help me :)

    Thank you in advance!
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  2. RC1970

    RC1970 post tenebras lux

    United States
    Welcome to CF. :wave:

    It will all workout for you because you are aware of the pitfalls.

    Pray this:

    "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." ~ Matthew 6:13
  3. mcarmichael

    mcarmichael Novice

    Think about why do you want to win the maths competition?
  4. GandalfTheWise

    GandalfTheWise In search of lost causes and hopeless battles

    United States
    I've found that the things I have become best at are things that I have some God-given aptitude for and do for the sheer joy of doing them.

    It's ironic you mention math since that's been a lifelong love of mine (as a physicist). I never had any personal goals related to math except for getting university degrees. Not having specific goals with regard to math hasn't stopped me from having a successful career drawing heavily on math and still loving math decades later. Even today, I'll come across an obscure topic in math somewhere and spend an evening researching it.

    For me, the best personal goals are those that are achievable without reference to other people and are integrated into my life in some manner. For example, within the next 5 years, I'd like to be reading the Bible comfortably in Greek and Hebrew. My Greek skills are to the point where I can read most of the Bible comfortably (though I still need more practice in some books). I am starting Hebrew this year. I don't know if my life schedule will allow me to keep working on this to meet the 5 year goal, but if so, I'll make some good progress. If not, I'll have enjoyed it and made some progress.

    I like having goals that allow me to celebrate success. If my goal was to read the Bible *perfectly* in Greek and Hebrew, a single mistake or place I don't understand will mean I failed. I would be constantly focused on eliminating mistakes. Since my goal is to read *comfortably* (which means to me that I'll sometimes need to look up things but usually not), I'm focused on doing what I want to learn to do. I'm measuring my progress by how many sentences I can read with good comprehension rather than how many mistakes I made on each sentence. Each time I read a paragraph with good comprehension, I have a sense of accomplishment. Each time I read a paragraph and have problems, I'll slow down, check it out some, and then go through it until I'm more comfortable. Mistakes, errors, problems, become challenges to overcome rather than signposts of failure.

    Anyway, that's me. Some people swear by using detailed goals with timetables and constant measures of progress. That never worked for me but it does for some people.